Author: Alex Flinn
Length: 384 pages
Source: eARC via Edelweiss
Mirror, mirror in my hand…
Beauty is the key to everything. At least, that’s how it seems to Violet—ugly, bullied, and lonely. To be beautiful, in her eyes, is to have power and love. And when Kendra, the witch, teaches Violet how to use magic, she may finally get what she wants.
For Celine, beautiful since birth, her looks have been a hindrance. She discovers that beauty is also a threat—especially to her stepmother, Violet, who doesn’t want anyone sharing the attention she worked so hard to get and who will do anything to be the fairest of them all.
But beauty isn’t only skin deep and love isn’t based on looks alone. And though Violet and Celine may seem to be completely opposite, their lives are almost… mirrored.
Characters: This book starts off with the story of Violet, the "weird" and "ugly" girl who is tormented at school. She feels if she could just be beautiful then that would change everything. Then she meets Kendra who shows her how to use her magical gifts. Then we have Celine's part of the story where Violet is now her stepmother who hates that Celine has naturally what it took Violet a lot of magic to get. What I really enjoyed seeing from these two characters is how their lives were so coincidentally mirrored. I mean I know it's not really a coincidence, but anyway. It was interesting seeing how even though there are vast differences in their lives, they struggled with a lot of the same things. While Violet becomes an evil and wicked stepmother to Celine she wasn't always that way, and I liked getting to see how she got where she did. She sort of reminded me of Levana from the Lunar Chronicles.
Romance: So at first I was totally digging this romance. The stuff in the Violet part can hardly be called romance, but it did a lot to help establish the story once we got to present day. Then there's the romance Celine takes part in. I kind of don't want to tell you who it is, mainly because it becomes so obvious who it is not too long into the book. That romance started off with a good slow burning romance. Nothing becoming too romantic, but then as we enter into a new part, things go from sweet innocent budding romance to full on "true love." I know there were a lot of factors going into how things had to go, but I felt like the author could have taken a bit of creative license adjusted some of the stuff needed from the Snow White Fairy Tale.
World-Building: So I love a good fairy tale retelling, and actually this was a pretty good one. First we get the backstory of the Evil Queen character, or at least who fills her role for this retelling. It provides a lot of much needed background info and in a lot of ways makes me feel and almost care for Violet before she goes full psychopath. Then we get into the actual retelling. I was surprised and delighted to see how much from the original tale got transferred over to this modern day retelling. My only criticism here, and it's really a personal things was how much pop culture was squeezed into this book. Like I don't mind a little pop culture in the books I read, I don't even mind that some of the time the pop culture reference is veiled and distorted so the author doesn't get sued. However it felt like there was way too much pop culture in this book, especially for a fairy-tale retelling, that it began to get on my nerves.
Predictability: WOW, this book was very predictable. I kid you not the foreshadowing was laid on extremely thick. Granted there were a few times when I was genuinely surprised by a twist or two. However, those were very few and far between. Look, I understand the need for foreshadowing, I understand that without it the story wouldn't flow quite the same way, and things would seem to come from out of no where. However the author pretty much spells out the "twist ending" long before it happens, and I was suspecting it long before even that. I just sort of wish there wasn't something pointing to almost each and every twist.
Ending: So the ending, like I said, was super predictable, however there were one or two things that didn't happen quite the way I expected. First of the final climax was way shorter than I had expected, then there was sort of a predictable ending, and at first I thought it was over. However there's a final part to this story that acts a an epilogue of sorts It's not bad exactly, however things begin to make less and less sense, and then finally the story ends in a nicely tied up and enclosed way.
So there's a lot to love about this story. It's a fun modern retelling of the Snow White Tale. However, the romance feels like it skipped a couple steps there were too many pop culture references, the story was extremely predictable, and by the end one character's motivations were so flimsy and weak that it made them a very non-compelling character.